British junior welterweight titleholder Ashley Theophane survived a torrid second defense in Tyne and Wear, England, on Saturday, as he secured an 11th-round stoppage against unfancied challenger Ben Murphy.
In a brutal contest, 31-year-old Theophane, from Kilburn, north London, was heading for a crushing fifth defeat of his career when he lost the opening six rounds to Murphy, who had taken the fight at just five days’ notice.
Perhaps that was behind Theophane’s disappointing display. He had prepared for tall north-east southpaw Nigel Wright and clearly struggled to adapt to the very different prospect presented by 5ft 3in outsider Murphy.
To his credit, Theophane (31-4-1, 9 knockouts) somehow found a way to snatch victory, unloading sustained attacks on a tiring opponent during the ninth and tenth rounds. By the 11th, Murphy, from Hove, Sussex, was a spent force, and at 2:33 the referee called a halt to proceedings.
Two of the judges had Murphy (8-5-1, 4 KOs), who normally fights at lightweight, ahead at that stage by five and four rounds, respectively, while the third had him winning by one.
On the same card in Tyne and Wear, British flyweight champion Chris Edwards (17-14-3, 4 KOs), from Stoke-on-Trent, retained his title with a comfortable points win against Shinny Bayaar (15-6-4, 2 KOs), gaining revenge for a split-decision loss to the Oldham man in October 2009.